Microwave Popcorn And Cancer Risk
There have been some rumors claiming that consuming microwave popcorn is not safe, as this commercially available popcorn has added chemicals that could increase a person's chances of getting cancer. It is said that people who consume microwave popcorn are at the risk of getting lung cancer. So, let us look whether there is any truth to microwave popcorn and cancer risk.
Till today, it has not been proven scientifically that consuming microwave popcorn can be a cancer risk. However, microwave popcorn has a chemical present on the inside lining of pack that tends to break down on being heated, forming a compound known as perfluorooctanoic acid. This compound can raise the risk of getting certain types of cancers, such as prostate cancer and liver cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, if workers working in a factory are constantly exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid, it increases the cancer mortality rate among them. So, there appears to be some indirect connection between microwave popcorn and cancer risk.
Besides increasing cancer risk, microwave popcorn is also claimed to lead to a type of lung disease. Unfortunately this is not a rumor. Typically, this type of popcorn contains a chemical compound known as diacetyl, which is used to enhance the flavor of the popcorn. It can result in a rare lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans. This has been proven scientifically and the study was published in the year 2007 in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine journal. When a person gets bronchiolitis obliterans, it results in scarring of the airways in the lungs and this causes difficulty in breathing.
So, people who love to eat microwave popcorn should take care that they are not exposed to perfluorooctanoic acid and diacetyl. The best way to ensure that you do not increase your risk of getting cancer by consuming microwave popcorn it to microwave loose corn kernels. This way the kernels will not be in their packaging and therefore, will not cause the inside of the packaging to break down and form perfluorooctanoic acid. On the other hand, diacetyl causes maximum damage when it is inhaled. This means that the chances of inhaling this chemical compound are the highest when the popcorn is hot. That is why it is advisable to allow the popcorn to cool down in its packaging before you decide to open it. This will ensure that you do not inhale the chemical and end up getting bronchiolitis obliterans in the long run. Also, it might be prudent to note that you would require large quantities of diacetyl inhalation for it to cause harm. Typically, this does not happen when a person consumes microwave popcorn and the quantity of diacetyl is small. That is why factory workers are more at risk compared to general consumers.
However, when it comes to microwave popcorn and cancer risk, it is best to take precautions. There is always a niggling doubt at the back of the head. So, if you are worried that you could get cancer due to consumption of microwave popcorn, it is best to opt for kernels that are not sold in microwave-friendly bags. You can still microwave free standing kernels and enjoy the same popcorn taste. This way you can add the flavoring to your taste. Furthermore, this type of popcorn will be free of additives and make a much healthier snack. Of course, if you are weight conscious, then you may not want to add butter to the popcorn. In such a case, you may be better off eating plain salted popcorn.
If you are still worried about microwave popcorn and your risk to cancer, it may be prudent to speak to your doctor. The doctor will be able to allay your fears. Remember, there is no direct connection between cancer and microwave popcorn.
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